Monthly Archives: December 2013



Pay It Forward Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,602 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,898 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life 

For this week’s Farm Kitchen/Pay it Forward Expert Level Merit Badge, I was pretty thrilled. I mean, level three? Expert? Moi? Luckily I’m like the most humble girl I know, so I didn’t let it go to my head, and got to work.

I went to my local food bank and soup kitchen (you remember the one? I brought them all my bounty from earning the Intermediate Level badge). I grabbed the nearest apron and told the cook I was ready for some good ol’ volunteering. Time to give back after yesterday’s splurge.

“Put me to work. I’ll do anything. Plate food, scrape dishes, play the piano … you name it, I’m your girl.” I beamed.

Then he nearly broke my heart by telling me I kind of had to sign up in advance for this volunteering stuff, and maybe in a few days or so they’d give me a call when they had an opening.


My hopes were dashed. I was all set to do good deeds and now this snag in my plans?




It was the wail that seemed to do the trick. Cook waved his magic spatula and suddenly there was space for me in the kitchen. I wiped my eyes on my borrowed apron (Note: make cuter aprons for the volunteers. Can you say polyester in the shade of pea soup?) and rolled up my sleeves.

I wasn’t the only volunteer, but I was the only first-timer, so I tried to blend in and look efficient. This was easier said than done because this place could really hustle and bustle. I mean, we’re talking moving and shaking everything and everyone working together like a well-oiled machine. I needed to find my place. But how?

Turns out I had a hidden gift in the plating department. You know what they say in all those cooking shows: presentation, presentation, presentation. I lovingly arranged dozens of cake plates and artfully plated the food. I had a special knack for making the colors pop, if I do say so myself. For instance: A shake of sesame seeds on the chicken and a dollop of butter just off center of the rolls REALLY made the whole ensemble come together.

Can food be an ensemble? I think, yes.

Anyway, Cook had to stop me before I started carving roses out of the radishes so I moved onto clearing the tables. This was where the real fun started: I got to visit. You all know how much I love visiting people, right? Visiting means talking, and I love myself a good long talk. I got to meet the most interesting people, farmgirls! And they all totally loved my napkin folding, said it really brought some thing different to the tables. I beamed again (it was a beaming kind of day).

Cook stopped me before I started munching on the cake and telling my life story to my new friends, and moved me onto dish washing. I could tell they really needed my expertise in nearly all areas, so I was pleased. And humble, of course.

I ended my day of volunteering with lots of suds in my hair and dish-pan hands, several new friends, and the desire to come back. Cook’s eyes smiled, which I totally took to mean he was thrilled.

I beamed.




May your day sparkle with moments of love, laughter, good food, and goodwill. Love, love, love from us to you.


Merry Christmas!!

Hope your day is cozy and full of warm feelings.

Photo Dec 24, 7 57 08 AM



Sugar Plums

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,


Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.

You know the verse.

But, can you tell me …

what, exactly, is a sugar plum?

My first thought:


Photo by Kristen Taylor via Wikimedia Commons

Fresh, juicy, and sugar-sweet—much like the ones that grow at my farm.

But history says that my vision of a sugar plum is not accurate, at least not in terms of Clement Moore’s famous poem.

Continue reading

Helping Nanny with the Chores

My mom has been busy helping Nanny during the final stages of recipe testing for Nanny’s upcoming book. And if my mom’s been busy, my nanny has been even busier! So I thought it might be useful if my sister and I helped Nanny with her chores yesterday.

Photo Dec 23, 12 53 14 PM

We love little Charlie! We could watch him for hours when he runs around and plays.

Photo Dec 23, 12 57 47 PM

Continue reading



And the cattle are lowing …

Here’s what my days are about. Momma “Sweetheart” nurses baby Charlie while Auntie Sally O’Mally sleeps nearby. Etta Jane and her baby, Eliza Belle, snooze out of view. Maizy and Miss Daisy are in the barn asleep. Otis, Yore, Brie, and Beau Vine snuggle in another barn. Milky Way and Samson in yet another shelter.

When Charlie isn’t tucked under momma, he and his older sibling, Eliza Belle, run like the wind. Run! Eliza Belle kicks up her heels sideways (too cute), and Charlie leaps likes a deer through the snow. I mean, he LEAPS. Bounds. I’ve never seen a calf leap like he does. It I weren’t trying to get my cow book done, I’d move in with my lovely cows. “Hay guys, is there room at the inn? Your beds look so cozy.”

Meanwhile, down at the farm … peace on earth.



Icing on the Cake Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,602 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—7,898 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life  

For this week’s Farm Kitchen/Icing on the Cake Expert Level Merit Badge, I was inspired by my local gingerbread house auction and contest.

Okay. So it was a little bit of a stretch … from cake to gingerbread house … but I knew my fellow farmgirls were behind me. Yeah, I wasn’t making a butter cake from scratch, but all the decorating I was going to do was going to make up for it.

And how.

The great thing about gingerbread houses is how long they stay fresh, and how early you can start the decorating process. Example: I started my house two weeks before the contest and auction. I mean, it’s not like anyone is going to eat it anyway, right? It’s for gazing at in awe and admiration, not for snacking. We aren’t Hansel and Gretel, people.

Of course, should anyone want to snack upon my house, they’d be met with delicious flavors, I assure you. Licorice whips, candy buttons, peppermints, gummy bears, powdered sugar, mini marshmallows, gumdrops, sugar cubes, lollipops, red hots, jelly beans … well, this list is somewhat endless. Being a farmgirl, I really tried to limit my junk food and went with plenty of locally made candy, dye-free alternatives, and healthy options, like pretzels and shredded wheat.

I realized about three days in that gingerbread-house decorating is a lot like having a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. They become rather addicting. As in, I’ll just finish this one stained glass window and then I’ll use the bathroom, or One more tree and then I’ll eat breakfast. If you don’t have boundaries, girls, you’re gonna end up with a slight bladder infection and expired, uneaten breakfast foods. Helpful hint from me to you: Know when to walk away from the golden glow of the frosting-tinted roofs and caramel-studded window panes.

I was going to bed with not only visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, but also visions of jellied fruit slices, Skittles, shredded coconut, and cotton candy. Willie Wonka had taken over my dreams. I was getting toothaches and I hadn’t even been pinching the inventory!

I needed a break. Mr. Wonderful obligingly took away my gingerbread house for the night so I wouldn’t be tempted to ice some more, or frost something. I printed out a list of emergency numbers for him in case something happened to my sweet baby, and I tried to go to bed early. I got up the next morning and treated myself to a nice breakfast and didn’t even call to check in (though I wanted to).

Seeing my beautiful house after a little bit of an absence was just what I had needed. With renewed vigor, I placed the very last silver non-pareil atop the gingerbread roof, and together, Mr. Wonderful and I loaded it up into the car.

He drove like a geriatric snail by my request, and we made it to the auction and contest just in time.

Did I win? Did anyone buy my sweet baby?

Well, Second Runner Up isn’t too bad, and let’s just say Mr. Wonderful came with spending money.

Munch munch.